Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Remixing Middle-earth

It was probably foolish to think that it was a good idea to mess with the Middle-earth map for my Middle-earth remixed. Rather than think that there'd be some pastiche I could use, it's best to actually use real Middle-earth, just with a different tone; an alt-Middle-earth.  Indeed, that's the whole premise of the thing to begin with, so it's hardly surprising that any other approach is frustrating.  After several abortive attempts to draw a pastiche Middle-earth map, I've completely decided against it.

Of course, that also means that there isn't really much more to do with this other than run it someday, I suppose.  The setting map is already laid out, and quite familiar.  The characters are familiar; the only major differences are the ones that remake Middle-earth from High Fantasy into Sword & Sorcery.  As a last hurrah before I say that I'm done with MIDDLE-EARTH REVISITED, let me... erm... revisit those changes.

First off; alternate history version.  There's no Frodo.  There's no Fellowship of the Ring.  Bilbo may have found the Ring, but Gandalf ended up taking it and installing himself as a Dark Lord, enslaving Sauron as his advistor with the power of the Ring.  This is based on Tolkien's own small exploration of an alternative plot-line that he claims would have made the story more allegorical-like with regards to World War II (or I.  Not sure which he means, actually, as I think it's a poor allegory either way.  But a great plot.)
The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dur would not have been destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth. 
So we've got Gandalf in Barad-dur, with Sauron as his unwilling flunkie, Saruman in Orthanc with a new rival Ring.  And, for the heckuvit, we've got the Witch-King reestablished in Angmar who's ultimate goal is actually the liberation of Sauron.  Although he's patient and slow, as undead tend to be.  This tripolar war; probably Cold War at this point, although threatening to tip over, actually doesn't much care about the Free Peoples of the West so much as they care about eliminating each other first.  Not to say that things are good for the Free Peoples (Gondor, sandwiched between Mordor and Orthanc in particular is not happy about this development), but the danger to them isn't imminent. 

What else?  Well, I've converted the setting into a more humano-centric, sword & sorcery one.  That means that elves and dwarves have to take on a more sinister cast as Goethe or Spencer-like beings from pagan Celtic and Germanic mythology.  And they're much more infrequent, even than in the stories as they are.  Rivendell isn't a stronghold of the Noldor, it's a stronghold of the Dunedain, for instance.  This also means that Gandalf, Saruman and Sauron aren't angelic beings; they're either undead or demonic, because nothing else explains their longevity.

Orcs and goblins are man-apes, basically.  If there were such a thing as temperate, sentient baboons and anthropomorphic apes, that's what they'd be—baboons playing the role of the snaga and apes the uruks.

There's also no such thing as hobbits; the role of the hobbits is just sturdy country-folk and yeomen living in independent communities.

Anyway, check out the tag to see what I've said about this in the past; the last couple of posts are still completely and totally valid and accurate with the exception that there's no longer any talk of creating a pastiche version of the setting.

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